The Benjamin Micklethwaite Story
Part of the Jackson Family History
Alternative web address: www.hilarymaryjackson.co.uk/Benjm Micklethwaite.htm
Updated 25 July 2006
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Benjamin Micklethwaite and his wife, Sarah had led an eventful life. Benjamin Micklethwaite has been the subject of several articles and stories. I have a copy of Phyllis Crossland's book "Echoing Hills" - Phyllis is the author of several books based in the region and has included Benjamin in her story. In the book local children were taught in a room in "Gin House", this property was later renamed "Well House". This was actually on Hunshelf Bank and this room was used until the Greenmoor school was built. Photographs showing Well House Farm and Cottages can be seen by accessing the above Braithwaite Page link.
Phyllis Crossland had lived at Hunshelf Hall and her ancestor's have lived in the area for many, many years. I have now contacted Phyllis and obtained her permission to use the information found in her booklet "History of Hunshelf". This information was kindly shown to my by fellow researcher Constance Goldring and if anyone objects to anything appearing on this website please contact me at the email address on the foot of each page and I will extract the information they object to.
After visiting Sheffield Archives, 20 July 2005, I realize some of the information printed below was written by Joseph Kenworthy, the historian who lived at Stretton Villa, Deepcar Sheffield
This first item from "The History of Hunshelf" by Phyllis Crossland begins with Benjamin's role as schoolmaster at Hunshelf.
SCHOOLS IN HUNSHELF
The earliest mention of education in Hunshelf is in the early nineteenth century when the overseers of the township opened a school in the cottage now known as Burton-under-Edge (Photograph below is Burton-under-Edge in 2006. It was then occupied by William Newton and in 1811 the rent was three guineas. The Schoolmaster appointed was Benjamin Micklethwaite, a young man of eighteen, and he was provided with fuel free of charge. The school was fitted with a range and table, and eleven forms were obtained in 1812. By 1820 Mr Micklethwaite was married and the first of his nine children was born at "Newton's" on September 22nd in that year.
In 1819 the cottage needed repair so the school was moved to nearby Well House. In 1822 Mr Micklethwaite submitted an account to the Overseers of the Poor for thirteen shillings, his charge for teaching four scholars at three pence per week. It is not known how many other pupils he taught whose parents were providing the pennies.
Another move took place in 1836 when he moved to the Town House at Greenmoor to which a schoolroom had been built by public subscription. He opened a small shop in the Town House to sell groceries and provisions, and his wife Sarah baked bread. The property belonged to the township. Mr Micklethwaite continued as a schoolmaster until 1844 when he was followed by Mr Thomas Roebuck, an ex soldier. It is said that this master had to augment his school pay by breaking stones for road-making. He died in 1865 and was succeeded by Mr Stacey, Mr Fleetwood and Mr Whittle.
Whilst this school at Greenmoor appeared to be the main centre of learning at that time, it was not the only one in Hunshelf. There was reputed to have been an elementary school at Snowdenhill before Hunshelf Town School came into existence. A lady called Martha Hurst, born at Snowdenhill on November 23rd 1828, told the late Joseph Kenworthy, Stocksbridge local historian, that she had been a pupil there when young. The master was an Irishman, known locally as "Black Dick". He taught a number of boys and girls in an old cottage in Hawksworths Fold. The cottage was used later as a farm out-building.
In 1877 the first School Board was formed in Hunshelf. Its members were: John Armitage of Sheffield, a fire-brick manufacturer, George Couldwell of Deanhead, Hunshelf, farmer, John Dyson of Penistone, iron-master, Francis Hill of Stocksbridge, a manager, and John Milner, also of Stocksbridge, a draper. John Armitage was elected chairman. Frederick Stacey, manager of Sheffield Union Bank, was appointed treasurer, and Joseph Hepworth clerk at ten pounds per annum.
It was then decided to build a new school at Greenmoor close to the existing one, to accommodate 120-150 children. At a meeting on 2nd November 1877 the whole of the Greenmoor school property was transferred to the Hunshelf School Board. Tenders for the erection of a school and school-house were advertised in April 1878 and the builder who was given the work was a Mr Laycock. Mr James Thompson contracted to make 12 desks and 12 forms each 12 feet long. The building work was carried on during 1879 and the school opened on Whit Wednesday 1880. The cost of building was about £1600. There was a public meeting and tea to mark the occasion. The first schoolmaster appointed was Mr Hardcastle, whose salary was £80 per annum with free house and coals.
When the school opened there were 82 children on the register, 42 boys and 40 girls, but by August of that year the number had increased to 100.
The pictures below were taken in Greenmoor, Hunshelf in the summer of 2004:
This is the school which opened in 1880. The Braithwaite children probably attended the older school which stood close to this site. There is a foundation stone in the wall, below the school commemorating the 1936 school.
Joseph Kenworthy wrote the following, copies of which were sent to me by Constance Goldring. This article was obviously written many years ago, on a manual typewriter, probably about 1950 is my estimate. Having visited Sheffield Archives and seen the original manuscripts, this estimate of 1950 is totally wrong. The manuscripts which were printed as booklets were produced about 1914.
Built by Subscription 1836
It will therefore occasion no surprise to find that the inhabitants of Hunshelf generally were favourably disposed towards doing something for the education of their children, and the growth of the population from 327 in 1801 to 436 in 1821, including Snowdenhill and Dean Head, quickened their efforts in this direction.
The first schoolmaster, so far as I can ascertain, was Benjamin Micklethwaite, a very lame, but strong, wiry man, who is said to have hailed from Coldwell in Bradfield.
There was a family of that name living in Hunshelf, and a perusal of the Overseers' Accounts would suggest that the township authorities might have become interested in the youthful cripple (sic) when visiting his kinsfolk. There is an entry in 1809 of £3.8.4½ for 'Clothes for Benjamin Mickelthwait' who would be about 18 years of age at that date, and in 1811 the Overseer for that year records, 'My journey to Sheffield to meet Fullard (Fulwood) Trustees about B. Micklethwaite, 5s.0d'.
On August 23rd, 1811, an item which reads: 'Benj. Mickelthwait, range and setting, 10s.0d.' followed by another in the same year, recording a payment to 'J. Ramsden for B.Mickelthwait, Table for School, £1.12.11,' refers to the fact that the township had opened a school in the little cottage which forms a portion of the homestead known as 'Birkin-under-Edge', then owned and occupied by William Newton.
The rent of this tenement, viz., three guineas per year, was paid by the Hunshelf Overseers who also provided the schoolmaster with all the coals he required free of charge. This fuel was brought from such distant collieries as Mr. Cockshutt's in the neighbourhood of Eastfield, and from Sheephouse Wood, and occasionally out of Hunshelf Bottom.
From many entries of the following nature, viz., 'August 23rd, 1811, Relieved B. Mickelthwaite one Week at 5s.0d. -do- 8 week at 4s.0d. pr Week' we find that the township insured their servant against absolute want, and to that extent had anticipated present day legislation by putting their school on the rates, and most strange thing of all, the township authorities were not thwarted in their public-spirited efforts by the 'custodians of religion'. There are no endowments and presumably there was no temptation in this respect. The school was absolutely undenominational, but not an 'irreligious' one.
The 'II forms for Scooll, £1.11.6d', debited in 1812 must have been more like chairs, or else the school had overflowed into the farmhouse or barn, probably the room now used as a parlour may have been added, because the schoolmaster had married, and the first of his nine children, according to a Family Bible* I have seen, was born at Hunshelf School at W. Newton's on Sep.22, 1820.
Through careful, self-denying management on the part of the schoolmaster and his wife, the pressure upon the township's finances was relieved, and the years moved along in quiet succession. The rent was duly paid and the annual assessments either paid or exonerated. The Overseers also paid for the repairs of the cottage in which the school was located, viz: - '1819, school mos(s)ing, (h)ards & lime, 6s.0d.' and this continued until the day came, when it was considered necessary to remove the school from Berton-under-Edge to Well House, not far away, where a more useful room was probably found in the weaving-chamber at the top.
The Overseers' Accounts record '1822, Ben. Micklethwaite to Isaac Ramsden - Removing Goods 4s.0d.' and the birth of his second child (George)' in Jos. Ramsden's Yard, a copy of whose baptismal register reads 'George Micklethwaite, son of Benjamin and Sarah Micklethwaite, Hunshelf Bank, was born Feb. 4, 1822, and baptised by Mr. Harrison at Netherfield Chapel', marks another step in the career of this faithful servant. The schoolmaster was now proudly rendering to the Overseers his quarterly account for 13s.0d. for teaching four scholars, at threepence each per week, as per arrangement and the lame figure you descried climbing the hill to Onesacre or Hunshelf, from 1823 to 1836, or thereabouts, could justly claim to be one who earned his living by the sweat of his brow.
He had been appointed to Onesacre School on April 21st 1823, as shown by the following agreement, and I have heard the old people say that he taught three days at each school.
Onesacre School, April 21, 1823. At a meeting of the undersigned Trustees it is agreed that Benjamin Micklethwait of Hunshelf be appointed Schoolmaster on the resignation of John Helliwell, During the pleasure and under the directions of the Trustees from time to time, and that the Trustees, or someone of them, pay to him a sum of Money arising from lands at Wigtwizzle and Onesacre School Bank, the income of such lands at present is let for the sum of Thirteen pounds a year, and there is another piece of land near the school, called the school-garden and he is to occupy that also for a garden, and that he is to teach a number of poor children free, to read and write, and that number not to exceed sixteen, and those children to be appointed yearly by the Trustees, and every year, and he also must keep the school in a tenantable repair, and to leave it as such, and be it further agreed that, in case he, the above named schoolmaster, should want to leave the school to give the Trustees three months notice, and the Trustees the same to him, if they should think proper to remove him from the aforesaid school.
I, Benjn Micklethwaite Trustees
agree to the above John Booth
terms Joel Eaton
John Redfearn, Junior
Other six of his family were born at Onesacre, where he had another home at, or near, the school. He was, however, living in the Town House at Greenmoor in, or just before, 1836, the year in which a school-room was attached by public subscription.
He had opened a small shop in the Town House, for the sale of groceries and provisions, to eke out his scanty living. His wife, Sarah, also baked bread, and might often be seen seated at her little stall, near Ebenezer Chapel, on festive occasions, dispensing sweets or currant cakes to those who were lucky enough to possess a few coppers to spend in such luxuries.
This old school and dwelling house are the property of the Greenmoor Parish Council, and it is well to note that the Board School adjoining, was also built on land belonging to the township.
An item of '19.6d. for new School Formes in 1836' does not indicate any very large addition of income, and the burden laid upon the schoolmaster by his growing family and the fact that a formidable competitor had opened out a lucrative business in 'Brownhill Fold', deepend the gloom that was settling down upon poor 'Owd Bennie Micklefit' who often shed bitter tears over a perusal of the debts that were left unpaid by those who had transferred their custom to the new shop.
The burden was rendered still heavier by the fact that, at a meeting of the Trustees of Onesacre School held on December 29th, 1836, Mr Edward Ludlam, of Dronfield, was appointed Schoolmaster in place of Benjamin Micklethwaite, resigned.
The broken-hearted pedagogue now in failing health had to fall back upon the generosity of the authorities who had called the Hunshelf School into existence, until the inevitable question arose as to his place of origin, and whether Bradfield parish ought not to take over the burden of his maintenance. A lawsuit was the result as reflected in the following entry in the Hunshelf Overseers's Accounts, viz., - '1838. To Messrs. Smith and Hinde Bill for Appeal against Order of removal of Benjamin Micklethwaite from Bradfield to Hunshelf £48.0.8.'
The Overseers' Accounts take another form about this date and all we know is that on September 27th 1843, the township authorities handed Benjamin Micklethwaite the tenant in possession of the Town House and School, a document of which the following is a copy, viz:
'We do hereby give you notice that you are on the first day of January, One thousand eight hundred and forty-four, to quit and deliver up in good repair and condition, the quiet and peaceable possession of all and singular, the School Buildings, lands, tenements, and hereditaments, which you rent or hold under us situate at Hunshelf, or elsewhere, in the County of York, with all and every the rights, members, and appurtenances thereto belonging.
(signed) Thomas Mitchell, Wm Smith, (Solicitor), John Pearson, Joseph Couldwell, Jonathan Crawshaw.
As the old schoolmaster read this notice his breast heaved with an emotion it were vain to repress, the fountain of tears o'erflowed, the fateful document fluttered to the ground as his palsied hand relaxed its trembling grasp. He realized that his work was done, and shortly after in his fifty-fourth year, he received an invitation to another parish whose boundaries are not yet defined.
Essay/article ends here
I have keyed in the above Essay/article almost exactly as it was typed.
The two pictures below are of the former Onesacre School. This is an absolutely beautiful place to live on the hillside, near Oughtibridge.
There are three official documents connected with this period - Examination of Settlement document and the Order of Removal.
The children of Benjamin and Sarah are listed within these three documents, Sarah Anne, Matilda, Eliza, Joel and Hannah are all mentioned, but my Great Grandmother Harriet is not included in the list. Harriet would have been about 11 years old at this time.
(Not yet completed - Overseers of the Poor entries to be added)
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25 July 2006